On paper, this dunk nearly wasn’t. Official Marc Davis ruled it an offensive foul as it happened. Warriors coach Steve Kerr challenged the call, and it was made real again. But that was an academic exercise, a correction of the historical record, because the spiritual impact on Luka Doncic and the Mavericks—on anyone in the blast radius—would’ve been the same. It would have been enough simply to have lived through the violence that Andrew Wiggins wrought with just under seven minutes to go in a 109-100 Warriors win. He went up from the dotted line and put Doncic on the floor:
“I feel that dunk would still be alive,” Wiggins said afterwards, when asked about the initial ruling. “I wish I had those bunnies,” said his victim. The Mavericks have the best basketball player in these Western Conference Finals—and they’ve surrounded him with the five-out, switching crew he needs—but here was a skull-rattling reminder that the Warriors have the best pure athlete. These days that physical dynamism is more often channeled into defending Luka than baptizing him. The theory of Andrew Wiggins has been scrapped and retooled several times since he was drafted first overall in 2014, and he’s been liberated from the pressures of his draft slot. No longer miscast as the high-usage offensive orchestrator, no longer left to button-mash his trusty spin move in the lane, the 27-year-old has been reborn as a full-time wing stopper whose shooting and rim pressure rounds out the Warriors offense, rather than defining it.
It’s the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Within these well-defined parameters, Wiggins has been playing the most effective basketball of his career. And for a guy who drifted listlessly into a max contract, he now seems to care about playing it, which is kind of heartening to see. His assignment has changed. His ability to hurl himself into the heavens has not. Wiggins finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in this series-fizzling Game 3 win.